<p>Photography by Joe Kim</p>
Follow these essential tips for a long-lasting arrangement.
1. Start with healthy stems
Before you buy freshly cut flowers, turn them upside down and watch for falling foliage; dry or rotting leaves and dropped petals are signs that the flowers are past their prime.
2. Prep the vessel
Bacteria are usually to blame when a cut flower meets an untimely end. That's why it's vitally important to build your arrangement in a vessel that's been washed with dish soap and water. Rinse the vessel with a capful of bleach to take care of any lingering impurities.
3. Feed the flowers
Fill the vessel with water and dissolve a packet of flower preservative, which is usually included with a bouquet of cut stems. (Avoid using preservatives in metal vases, though, as this can cause a reaction that's harmful to flowers.) If you prefer an alternative to prepackaged flower food, add one part lemon-lime soda for every three parts water. You can also add a small amount of bleach (about a quarter teaspoon of bleach per litre of water) to curb bacterial growth and help keep the water clear.
4. Recut the stems
Using sharp scissors or floral clippers, snip an inch off the base of each flower stem at a 45-degree angle, which increases the surface area and water absorption, and ensures the base won't get plugged sitting flat against the bottom of the vase. Remove any foliage that would sit below the waterline, as it creates a breeding ground for bacteria.
5. Maintain your masterpiece
Keep your flower arrangement out of direct sunlight and away from the chilly blast of air-conditioning. Replace the water every two days, recutting stems an inch higher each time.
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